What Are The Cairo Documents On 'The Night Manager'? Richard Roper Is Doing Business With Dangerous People

International intrigue pairs well with exquisitely shot locales on the new AMC miniseries The Night Manager . The first episode of the six-chapter espionage drama aired on Tuesday night and it set the tone for an elegant and exhilarating season. The episode opens with entrepreneur and philanthropic icon Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) giving a speech about the responsibilities of the successful to better the world. "My good fortune means nothing unless it also lifts up my fellow man," Roper says, but his public image hides an open secret. Nefrititi Hotel night manager Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) is handed a sheath of papers that ties Roper to the attempted suppression of the 2011 Egyptian revolution and suggests that the refined charmer is more warlord than do-gooder. The Cairo documents implicate Roper, though Pine is powerless at that time to do anything about it.

The audience first sees Pine walking to work in Cairo through a mass of protesters. This is a reenactment of a very real political event that occurred in Egypt just five years ago. According to The Huffington Post, Egyptians demonstrated publicly to "protest poverty, rampant unemployment, government corruption and autocratic governance of President Hosni Mubarak." Mubarak is the leader whose departure after 30 years of oppressive rule Yousseff and the rest of the kitchen staff are celebrating when Pine visits his friend to ask for information.

Now is a good time to let you know that Roper and his Cairo customers the Hamids are not based on real people. (In fact, the John le Carré novel this miniseries is adapted from was published in 1993, long before the revolution it uses as a backdrop in this first episode.) Freddie Hamid is "a playboy and a gambler" and a son of a rich family who has been profiting off of the state of the political establishment. His mistress Sophie Alekan finds the Cairo documents and puts them in front of someone she wants to trust, the British night manager with embassy friends. The documents are essentially bills of sale for pretty much anything you'd need to fight a war — or quash a rebellion. The payment for the firepower is due to IronLast, Roper's company. The public knows him as a champion of refugees. Meanwhile, he's making money hand over fist by arms dealing to despotic governments.

It comes up a few times in the episode that Pine used to be a soldier. And, though he lives and works elsewhere, he's a loyal subject of the crown. He's also concerned for his neighbors, colleagues, and other innocents in Cairo. He does what he thinks to be right and hands his copy of the documents over to his friend at the British Embassy, asking Simon to keep his name out of it. But instead of dismantling Roper's empire and exposing him for what he is, the papers merely languish in British intelligence. There's diplomacy to think about, and Roper's far-reaching power. When Roper shows up in Switzerland four years later to Pine's new post, he acts like a man who knows he's untouchable. Because he is.

The Cairo documents are undeniable evidence of Richard Roper's illegal and unethical arms dealing, but his continued freedom proves that sometimes even the smoking gun doesn't cut it. Now it's in the hands of Pine and British intelligence outlier Angela Burr to bring Roper and his cronies down.

Images: Des Willie/AMC (2)